The gardener and the noble family

Gartneren og herskabet

About four miles from the city stood an old manor house with thick walls, towers, and pointed gables. Here lived, but only in the summer season, a rich and noble family. Of all the different estates they owned, this was the best and the most beautiful; on the outside it looked as if it had just been cast in a foundry, and the inside was made for comfort and ease. The family coat of arms was carved in stone over the gate; beautiful roses climbed about the arms and the balconies; the courtyard was covered with grass; there were red thorn and white thorn, and many rare flowers even outside the greenhouse.
The owners of the manor house also had a very skillful gardener. It was a pleasure to see the flower garden, the orchard, and the vegetable garden. A part of the manor's original old garden was still there, consisting of a few box-tree hedges cut so that they formed crowns and pyramids. Behind these stood two old, mighty trees, almost always without leaves, and one might easily think that a storm or a waterspout had scattered great lumps of dirt on their branches, but each lump was a bird's nest. Here, from time immemorial, a screaming swarm of crows and rooks had built their nests; it was a regular bird town, and the birds were the owners, the manor's oldest family - the real lordship! The people below meant nothing to them; they tolerated these crawling creatures, even if every now and then they shot with their guns, making the birds' backbones shiver, so that every bird flew up in fear and cried, "Rak! Rak!"
The gardener often spoke to the noble family about cutting down the old trees; they did not look well, and by taking them away they might also get rid of the shrieking birds, which then would probably look for another place. But the family did not want to give up either the trees or the swarm of birds; that was something the manor could not lose, something from the olden times, which should never be forgotten.
"Why, those trees are the birds' heritage by this time, so let them keep them, my good Larsen!" Larsen was the gardener's name, but that is of very little consequence to this story.
"Haven't you space enough to work in, little Larsen? Have you not the flower garden, the greenhouse, the orchard, and the vegetable garden?"
Yes, those he had, and he cared for them; he kept them in order and cultivated them with affection and ability, and that the noble family knew; but they did not conceal from him that they often saw flowers and tasted fruits in other people's homes that surpassed what they had in their garden, and that made the gardener sad, for he always wished to do his best and really did his best. He was goodhearted and a good and faithful worker.
One day the noble family sent for him and told him, very kindly, that the day before, at some distinguished friend's home, they had eaten apples and pears that were so juicy and so well flavored that they and all the other guests had expressed their admiration. It was doubtful if the fruits were native, but they ought to be imported and grown here, provided the climate would permit it. It was known that they had been bought from the finest fruit dealer in the city, and it was decided that the gardener was to go there and find out where these apples and pears came from and then order some slips for grafting. The gardener knew the fruit dealer well, because he was the very person to whom he sold the superfluous fruit that grew in the manor garden.
And the gardener went to town and asked the dealer where he got those highly praised apples and pears. "Why, they are from your own garden," said the fruit dealer, and showed him both the apples and pears, which he recognized immediately.
How happy the gardener felt! He hurried back to the family and told them that both the apples and the pears were from their own garden. That they couldn't believe! "That's not possible, Larsen! Can you get a written guarantee to that effect from the fruit dealer?"
Yes, that he could, and a written guarantee he brought.
"That certainly is remarkable!" said the noble family.
Now every day great dishes filled with wonderful apples and pears from their own garden were set on the table. Bushels and barrels of these fruits were sent to friends in the city and outside the city; yes, even to foreign lands. This afforded great pleasure; yet the family added that the last two summers had, of course, been remarkably good for tree fruits and these had done very well all over the country.
Some time passed. The family were dinner guests at court. The next day they sent for the gardener. At the royal table they had eaten melons, very juicy and wonderfully flavored, from their majesties' greenhouse.
"You must go to the court gardener, my good Larsen, and let him give you some seeds of those precious melons."
"But the court gardener got his melon seeds from us!" said the gardener, very pleased.
"Then that man knows how to bring the fruit to a higher perfection!" answered the family. "Each melon was splendid."
"Well, then, I really can feel proud!" said the gardener. "I must tell your lordship that the court gardener had had bad luck with his melons this year, and when he saw how beautiful ours looked, and then tasted them, he ordered three of them for the castle."
"Larsen, don't try to tell us that those were melons from our garden."
"I really believe so," said the gardener.
And he went to the court gardener, from whom he got a written guarantee to the effect that the melons on the royal table were from the manor. This was really a big surprise to the family, and they did not keep the story to themselves; the written guarantee was displayed, and melon seeds were sent far and wide, as grafting slips had been earlier.
These slips, the family learned, had taken and begun to bear fruit of an excellent kind. This was named after the family manor, and the name became known in English, German, and French. This, no one had expected. "Let's hope the gardener won't get big ideas about himself," said the family.
But he took it in a different way; he would strive now to be known as one of the best gardeners in the country and to produce something superior out of all sorts of garden stuff every year. And that he did. But often he was told that the very first fruits he brought out, the apples and the pears, were, after all, the best, that all later variations were very inferior to these. The melons were very good, to be sure, though, of course, they belonged to another species; his strawberries might be called delicious, but no better than those grown by other gardeners, and when one year his radishes did not turn out very well, they spoke only of the unsuccessful radishes and not about all the other fine products he had developed.
It almost seemed as if the family felt a relief in saying, "It didn't go well this year, little Larsen!" Yes, they seemed quite happy when they said, "It didn't go well this year!"
Twice a week the gardener brought fresh flowers up to their drawing room, always arranged with such taste and artistry that the colors seemed to appear even brighter.
"You have good taste, Larsen," said the noble family, "but that is a gift from our Lord, not from yourself!"
One day the gardener brought a large crystal bowl; in it floated a water-lily leaf upon which was laid a beautiful blue flower as big as a sunflower.
"The lotus of Hindustan!" exclaimed the family.
They had never seen a lotus flower before. In the daytime it was placed in the sunlight and in the evening under artificial light. Everyone who saw it found it remarkably beautiful and unusual; yes, even the most highborn young lady in the country, the wise and kindhearted Princess, said so. The family considered it an honor to present her with the flower, and the Princess took it with her to the castle. Then they went down to their garden to pick another flower of the same kind, but none was to be found. So they sent for the gardener and asked him where he got the blue lotus flower.
"We have been looking for it in vain," they said. "We have been in the greenhouses and round about the flower garden!"
"Oh, no, it's not there," said the gardener. "It is only a common flower from the vegetable garden; but, look, isn't it beautiful! It looks like a blue cactus, and yet it is only the flower of the artichoke!"
"You should have told us that immediately!" said the noble family. "Naturally, we supposed it was a rare, foreign flower. You have ridiculed us to the young Princess! She saw the flower in our house and thought it was beautiful; she didn't know the flower, although she knows her botany well, but then, of course, that science has nothing to do with kitchen herbs. How could you do it, Larsen! To place such a flower in our drawing room is enough to make us ridiculous!"
And the gorgeous blue flower from the vegetable garden was taken out of the drawing room, where it didn't belong; yes, and the noble family apologized to the Princess and told her that the flower was only a kitchen herb that the Gardener had had the idea of exhibiting, and that he had been severely reprimanded for it.
"That was a shame, and very unfair," said the Princess. "He has really opened our eyes to a magnificent flower we otherwise would have paid no attention to; he has shown us beauty where we didn't expect to find it. As long as the artichoke is in bloom, our court gardener shall daily bring one of them up to my private room!"
And this was done.
The noble family told the gardener that he could again bring them a fresh artichoke flower.
"It is really beautiful!" they said. "Highly remarkable!" And the gardener was praised.
"Larsen likes that," said the noble family. "He is like a spoiled child."
In the autumn there was a terrific storm. During the night it increased so violently that many of the large trees in the outskirts of the wood were torn up by the roots, and to the great grief of the noble family - yes, they called it grief - but to the gardener's delight, the two big trees with all the birds' nests blew down. Through the storm one could hear the screaming of the crows and the rooks as they beat their wings against the manor windows.
"Now, of course, you are happy, Larsen!" said the noble family. "The storm has felled the trees, and the birds have gone off into the forest. There is nothing from olden times left to see here; every sign and reference has disappeared; it makes us very sad!"
The gardener said nothing, but he thought of what he had long had in his mind, how he could make use of that wonderful, sunny spot, now at his disposal; it could become the pride of the garden and the joy of the family.
The large trees, in falling, had crushed the very old box-tree hedges with all their fancy trimmings. Here he put in a multitude of plants, native plants from the fields and the woods. What no other gardener had ever thought of planting in a manor garden, he planted, giving each its appropriate soil, and sunlight or shadow, according to what the individual plant required. He gave them loving care, and everything grew magnificently.
The juniper tree from the heaths of Jutland rose in shape and color like the Italian cypress; the shiny, thorny Christ's-thorn, ever green, in the cold of winter and the sun of summer, was beautiful to behold. In the foreground grew ferns of various species; some of them looked as if they were children of the palm tree, others as if they were parents of the pretty plant we call Venus's-hair. Here stood the neglected burdock, so pretty in its freshness that it can be outstanding in a bouquet. The burdock stood in a dry place, but further down, in the moist soil, grew the coltsfoot, also a neglected plant and yet very picturesque with its enormous leaf and its tall stem. Six-feet tall, with flower after flower, like an enormous, many-armed candelabra, rose the mullein, just a mere field plant. Here grew the woodruff, the primrose, and the lily of the valley, the wild calla and the fine three-leaved wood sorrel. It was all wonderful to see.
In the front, in rows, grew very tiny pear trees from French soil, fastened to steel wires; by getting plenty of sun and good care they soon bore fruit as large and juicy as in their own country. In place of the two old leafless trees was set a tall flagpole from which Dannebrog - the flag of Denmark - proudly flew; and close by stood another pole, around which the hop tendril twisted and wound its fragrant flower cones in the summer and at harvesttime, but on which in the winter, according to an old custom, oat sheaves were hung, so that the birds could have a good meal during the happy Christmastime.
"Our good Larsen is getting sentimental in his old age," said the family, "but he is true and faithful to us!"
At New Year's, one of the city illustrated papers published a picture of the old manor; it showed the flagpole and the oat sheaves for the birds at the happy Christmastime, and the paper commented that it was a beautiful thought to uphold and honor this old custom, so appropriate to the old manor.
"Anything that Larsen does," said the noble family, "they beat the drum for. He is a lucky man. We should almost be proud to have him!"
But they were not a bit proud of it; they knew they were the masters of the manor, and they could dismiss Larsen, but that they wouldn't do. They were good people, and there are many good people of their kind in the world - and that is fortunate for all the Larsens.
Yes, that is the story of the gardener and the noble family. Now you may think about it!
En mils vej fra hovedstaden stod en gammel herregård med tykke mure, tårne og takkede gavle.
Her boede, men dog kun i sommertiden, et rigt, højadeligt herskab; denne gård var den bedste og smukkeste af alle de gårde, det ejede; den stod som nystøbt udenpå, og med hygge og bekvemmelighed indeni. Slægtens våben var hugget i sten over porten, dejlige roser slyngede sig om våben og karnap, et helt græstæppe bredte sig ud foran gården; der var rødtjørn og hvidtjørn, der var sjældne blomster, selv uden for drivhuset.
Herskabet havde også en dygtig gartner; det var en lyst at se blomsterhaven, frugt- og køkkenhaven. Op til denne var endnu en rest af gårdens oprindelige gamle have: nogle buksbomhække, beklippet så at de dannede kroner og pyramider. Bag disse stod to mægtige gamle træer; de var altid næsten bladløse, og man kunne let falde på at tro, at en stormvind eller en skypumpe havde strøet dem over med store klumper gødning, men hver klump var en fuglerede.
Her byggede fra umindelige tider en vrimmel skrigende råger og krager: Det var en hel fugleby, og fuglene var herskabet, ejendomsbesidderne, herresædets ældste slægt, det egentlige herskab på gården. Ingen af menneskene dernede kom dem ved, men de tålte disse lavt gående skabninger, uagtet disse imellem knaldede med bøsse, så det krillede i fuglenes rygrad, så at hver fugl fløj op derved i forskrækkelse og skreg: "Rak! Rak!"
Gartneren talte tit til sit herskab om at lade fælde de gamle træer, de så ikke godt ud, og kom de bort blev man rimeligvis fri for de skrigende fugle, de ville søge andetsteds hen. Men herskabet ville hverken af med træerne eller med fuglevrimlen, det var noget, gården ikke kunne miste, det var noget fra den gamle tid, og den skulle man ikke aldeles slette ud.
"De træer er nu fuglenes arvegods, lad dem beholde det, min gode Larsen!"
Gartneren hed Larsen, men det har her nu ikke videre at betyde.
"Har De, lille Larsen, ikke virkeplads nok? hele blomsterhaven, drivhusene, frugt- og køkkenhaven?"
Dem havde han, dem plejede, passede og opelskede han med iver og dygtighed, og det blev erkendt af herskabet, men de dulgte ikke for ham, at de hos fremmede tit spiste frugter og så blomster, som overgik hvad de havde i deres have, og det bedrøvede gartneren, for han ville det bedste og gjorde det bedste. Han var god i hjertet, god i embedet.
En dag lod herskabet ham kalde og sagde i al mildhed og herskabelighed, at de dagen forud hos fornemme venner havde fået en art æbler og pærer, så saftholdige, så velsmagende, at de og alle gæster havde udtalt sig i beundring. Frugterne var vistnok ikke indenlandske, men de burde indføres, blive hjemme her, om vort klima tillod det. Man vidste at de var købt inde i byen hos den første frugthandler, gartneren skulle ride derind og få at vide, hvorfra disse æbler og pærer var kommet og da forskrive podekviste.
Gartneren kendte godt frugthandleren, det var netop til ham, han på herskabets vegne solgte den overflødighed af frugt, der groede i herregårdshaven.
Og gartneren tog til byen og spurgte frugthandleren, hvorfra han havde disse højtpriste æbler og pærer.
"De er fra Deres egen have!" sagde frugthandleren og viste ham både æble og pære, som han kendte igen.
Nå, hvor blev han glad, gartneren; han skyndte sig til herskabet og fortalte, at både æblerne og pærerne var fra deres egen have.
Det kunne herskabet slet ikke tro. "Det er ikke muligt, Larsen! kan De skaffe skriftlig forsikring fra frugthandleren?"
Og det kunne han, skriftlig attest bragte han.
"Det var da mærkeligt!" sagde herskabet.
Nu kom hver dag på herskabsbordet store skåle med disse prægtige æbler og pærer fra deres egen have; der sendtes skæppe- og tøndevis af disse frugter til venner i byen og uden for byen, ja selv til udlandet. Det var en hel fornøjelse! dog måtte de tilføje, at det havde jo også været to mærkelig gode somre for træfrugterne, disse var overalt i landet lykkedes godt.
Nogen tid gik; herskabet spiste en middag ved hoffet. Dagen derpå blev gartneren kaldt til sit herskab. De havde ved taflet fået meloner, så saftfulde, smagfulde, fra majestætens drivhus.
"De må gå til hofgartneren, gode Larsen, og skaffe os nogle af kernerne fra disse kostelige meloner!"
"Men hofgartneren har fået kernerne fra os!" sagde gartneren ganske fornøjet.
"Så har den mand vidst at bringe frugten til en højere udvikling!" svarede herskabet. "Hver melon var udmærket!"
"Ja, så kan jeg være stolt!" sagde gartneren. "Jeg skal sige det nådige herskab, slotsgartneren har i år ikke haft held med sine meloner, og da han så hvor prægtige vore stod og smagte dem, så bestilte han tre af disse op på slottet!"
"Larsen! Bild sig ikke ind, at det var de meloner fra vor have!"
"Jeg tror det!" sagde gartneren, gik til slotsgartneren og fik af ham skriftlig bevidnelse om at melonerne på det kongelige taffel var kommet fra herregården.
Det var virkelig en overraskelse for herskabet, og det fortiede ikke historien, det fremviste attesten, ja der blev sendt melonkerner vidt om, ligesom tidligere podekvistene.
Om disse fik man efterretninger at de slog an, satte frugt, ganske udmærket, og den var kaldt op efter herskabets herregård, så at det navn derved nu var at læse på engelsk, tysk og fransk.
Det havde man aldrig forud tænkt sig.
"Bare gartneren ikke får for store ideer om sig selv!" sagde herskabet.
Han tog det på en anden måde: Han ville just stræbe nu, at hævde sit navn som en af landets bedste gartnere, forsøge hvert år at bringe noget fortrinligt af alle havearter, og det gjorde han; men tit fik han dog at høre, at de allerførste frugter han havde bragt, æblerne og pærerne, var de egentlige bedste, alle senere arter stod langt under. Melonerne havde rigtignok været meget gode, men det var jo et ganske andet slags; jordbærrene kunne kaldes fortræffelige, men dog ikke bedre end de, de andre herskaber havde, og da ræddikerne ét år ikke lykkedes, så taltes kun om de uheldige ræddiker og ikke om hvad andet godt der var bragt.
Det var næsten som om herskabet følte lettelse ved at sige:
"Det gik ikke i år, lille Larsen!" De var ganske glade ved at kunne sige: "Det gik ikke i år!"
Et par gange om ugen bragte gartneren friske blomster op i stuen, altid så smagfuldt ordnet; farverne kom ved sammenstillingen ligesom i et stærkere lys.
"De har smag, Larsen!" sagde herskabet, "det er en gave, der er givet Dem af Vorherre, ikke af Dem selv!"
En dag kom gartneren med en stor krystalskål, i den lå et åkandeblad; hen på dette var lagt, med sin lange, tykke stilk ned i vandet, en strålende, blå blomst, stor som en solsikke.
"Hindustans lotus!" udbrød herskabet.
En sådan blomst havde de aldrig set; og den blev om dagen stillet hen i solskinnet og om aftnen i reflekslys. Enhver som så den, fandt den mærkværdig dejlig og sjælden, ja det sagde selv den fornemste af landets unge damer, og hun var prinsesse; klog og hjertensgod var hun.
Herskabet satte en ære i at overrække hende blomsten, og den kom med prinsessen op på slottet.
Nu gik herskabet ned i haven for selv at plukke en blomst af samme slags, om en sådan endnu fandtes, men den var ikke at finde. Så kaldte de på gartneren og spurgte, hvorfra han havde den blå lotus:
"Vi har søgt forgæves!" sagde de. "Vi har været i drivhusene og rundt om i blomsterhaven!"
"Nej, der er den rigtignok ikke!" sagde gartneren. "Den er kun en ringe blomst fra køkkenhaven! men, ikke sandt, hvor er den smuk! Den ser ud som var den en blå kaktus, og er dog kun blomsten på artiskokken!"
"Det skulle De have sagt os straks!" sagde herskabet. "Vi måtte tro at det var en fremmed, sjælden blomst. De har prostitueret os for den unge prinsesse! Hun så blomsten hos os, fandt den så smuk, kendte den ikke, og hun er ganske inde i botanikken, men den videnskab har ikke med køkkenurter at gøre. Hvor kunne det falde Dem ind, gode Larsen, at sætte en sådan blomst op i stuen. Det er at gøre os latterlige!"
Og den smukke blå pragtblomst, der var hentet fra køkkenhaven, blev sat ud af herskabsstuen, hvor den ikke hørte hjemme, ja herskabet gjorde en undskyldning hos prinsessen, og fortalte at blomsten var kun en køkkenurt, som gartneren havde fundet på at stille frem, men at han derfor havde fået en alvorlig irettesættelse.
"Det var synd og uret!" sagde prinsessen. "Han har jo lukket vore øjne op for en pragtblomst, vi slet ikke lagde mærke til, han har vist os dejligheden der, hvor vi ikke faldt på at søge den! Slotsgartneren skal hver dag, så længe artiskokkerne har blomst, bringe mig én op i min stue!"
Og det skete.
Herskabet lod gartneren sige, at han igen kunne bringe dem en frisk artiskokblomst.
"Den er i grunden smuk!" sagde de, "højst mærkværdig!" og gartneren fik ros.
"Det kan Larsen godt lide!" sagde herskabet. "Han er et forkælet barn!"
I efteråret blev det en forfærdelig storm; den tog til ud på natten, så voldsomt, at mange store træer i udkanten af skoven blev rykket op med rod, og til stor sorg for herskabet, sorg, som de kaldte det, men til glæde for gartneren, blæste de to store træer om med alle fuglerederne. Man hørte i stormen rågers og kragers skrig, de slog med vingerne på ruderne, sagde folkene på gården.
"Nu er De da glad, Larsen!" sagde herskabet; "stormen har fældet træerne, og fuglene har søgt til skoven. Her er ikke mere syn af gammel tid; hvert tegn og hver hentydning er borte! Os har det bedrøvet!"
Gartneren sagde ikke noget, men han tænkte på, hvad han længe havde tænkt, ret at benytte den prægtige solskinsplads, han før ikke rådede over, den skulle blive til havens pryd og herskabets glæde.
De store omblæste træer havde kvast og knust de ældgamle buksbomhække, med hele deres udklipning. Han rejste her en tykning af vækster, hjemlandsplanter fra marken og skoven.
Hvad ingen anden gartner havde tænkt på i rig fylde at plante ind i herskabshaven, satte han her i den jord hver skulle have, og i skygge og i solskin som hver art behøvede det. Han plejede i kærlighed og det voksede i herlighed.
Enebærbusken fra den jyske hede løftede sig, i form og farve som Italiens cypres, den blanke piggede kristtjørn, altid grøn, i vinterkulde og i sommersol, stod dejlig at se. Foran groede bregnerne, mange forskellige arter, nogle så ud som var de børn af palmetræet, og andre, som var de forældre til den fine, dejlige plantevækst, vi kalder venushår. Her stod den ringeagtede burre, der i sin friskhed er så smuk, at den kan tage sig ud i buket. Burren stod på det tørre, men lavere, i den fugtigere grund, groede skræppen, også en ringeagtet plante og dog ved sin højde og sit mægtige blad så malerisk smuk. Favnehøj, med blomst ved blomst, som en mægtig, mangearmet kandelaber, løftede sig kongelyset, plantet ind fra marken. Her stod skovmærker, kodriver og skovliljekonvaller, den vilde calla og den trebladede, fine skovsyre. Det var en dejlighed at se.
Foran, støttede til ståltrådssnore, voksede i række ganske små pæretræer fra fransk jordbund; de fik sol og god pleje og bare snart store, saftfulde frugter, som i landet de kom fra.
I stedet for de to gamle, bladløse træer, blev sat en høj flagstang, hvor Dannebrog vajede, og tæt ved endnu en stang, hvor i sommertid og høstens tid humleranken med sine duftende blomsterkogler snoede sig, men hvor i vinteren, efter gammel skik, blev ophængt en havrekærv, at himlens fugle kunne have måltid i den glade jul.
"Den gode Larsen bliver sentimental i sine ældre år!" sagde herskabet. "Men han er os tro og hengiven!"
Ved nytår kom, i et af hovedstadens illustrerede blade, et billede af den gamle gård; man så flagstangen og havreneget for himlens fugle i den glade jul, og det stod omtalt og fremhævet som en smuk tanke, at en gammel skik her var bragt i hævd og ære, så betegnende just for den gamle gård.
"Alt hvad den Larsen gør," sagde herskabet, "slår man på tromme for. Det er en lykkelig mand! Vi må jo næsten være stolte af at vi har ham!"
Men de var slet ikke stolte deraf! De følte at de var herskabet, de kunne sige Larsen op, men det gjorde de ikke, de var gode mennesker og af deres slags er der så mange gode mennesker, og det er glædeligt for enhver Larsen.
Ja, det er historien om "Gartneren og herskabet."
Nu kan du tænke over den!